Construction Begins in UK on First Subsidy-Free Wind Farm

CC BY 2.0. Tony Webster

There have been rumblings for quite some time now about subsidy-free wind power soon becoming viable in certain locations. Indeed, The Netherlands has even signed an agreement for subsidy-free offshore wind (an application which has typically been significantly more expensive than its onshore cousin.)

Now Business Green reports that a developer in the UK is actually moving into the construction phase of an 8.2MW extension to an existing wind farm, and the work is apparently being done without any form of government subsidy at all.

If true, this marks the beginning of a new and exciting phase in the transition to a low carbon economy. While it's way too soon to start talking about phasing out renewables subsidies—especially given the massive government assistance that's still provided to dirty fossil fuels—it does suggest that it will be harder than ever for opponents of renewables to throw a spanner in the works by shifting government policy.

Key to this encouraging development is the growth of corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). In fact, the developer explicitly quotes a PPA with a yet-to-be-announced consumer goods brand as being the economic driver that's allowing them to move forward with the project. As a growing number of corporations commit themselves to ever more ambitious renewable energy purchase goals, these commitments not only create demand for renewables—they also serve as a stabilizer in the marketplace, serving as a backstop to the fickle winds of party politics and fiscal policy.

So while it's right and proper to view corporate sustainability commitments through a cautious lens, I do believe we are beginning to see the fruits of those many, many boardroom sustainability initiatives and the work of the activists and 'conscious consumers' who pushed for them.

You can all give yourselves a pat on the back. And then back to work...